Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interview: Jillian Chantal Serves Up Enticing Shorts

This blog welcomes our first author interview thanks to friend and multi-published author Jillian Chantal - by day mild-manner lawyer, by night passion-enflamed writer of numerous novels, novellas and short stories.
Jillian’s first novel Solo Honeymoon was publish by Siren Bookstrand in November 2010.  Since then she has continued to delight readers with more.  Surfer Bride published in February 2011, Redemption for the Devil published in July 2011 by Desert Breeze Publishing and Sebastian’s Salvation just released February 7th, 2012.
But besides these amazing novels, Jillian has recently published two novellas Sophie’s Snow Day in the Snow Bound anthology, and Coroner’s Delight in Valentine’s Delights both offered by Still Moments Publishing and she has still more coming out this year. 
So today, I invited Jillian here to share with us her writing history, process, and secrets of writing shorter fiction.
Tell us a little of your writing history.  Which came first novels or shorts?
Jillian:  The first three romance "books" I wrote all the way to the words THE END were about 35,000 words each which is considered novella length.  After that, I wrote a few stories under 2,500 words for fun and to work on various aspects of the craft. These short stories were not romances. I then found a cool website that puts out calls for short stories and submitted some of mine. They were accepted and I initially had all my work published under my real name. 
Jillian Chantal is your pseudonym.  How did that come to be?
Jillian:  When I decided to try to publish the romances, I happened to be sitting in a room with a bunch of Federal court lawyers, mostly male, and I decided then and there that I better come up with a pseudonym if I didn't want the incessant buzz of these guys wondering if I was thinking of them when I wrote my love scenes- and believe me, they would. They'd get great enjoyment out of teasing me about it. You said above that I'm mild mannered but I'm really not when I'm in lawyer mode. I wasn't ready to risk my street cred by chatting about romance to the old boys club. LOL!
How do you decide on your stories’ length?
Jillian:  I always believe the story determines the length. I'm a person who starts to write with a basic idea and just goes with the flow. If the story seems to grow organically into something longer, I keep going with it. I DO believe that writing short is helpful in learning how to write tight.  I once had a friend tell me that I write like a man. I was a bit insulted until she said the man she meant was Hemingway. LOL!  I like tight sentence structure and plotting. I believe being versatile in writing both long and short makes for better prose.
Do you personally prefer novella, novel, or shorter length?  
Jillian:  I like novellas both for reading and writing. I tend to write shorter even on my novels because I don't like repetition. When I was in law school, I would be assigned a twenty page paper and get it done in fifteen. This carries over into my fiction work. Get in, tell the story and get out. That's my philosophy.  Now, that being said, I've had one reviewer say about one of my shorter stories that she wished it was a novel and I had one short story rejected by a publisher who said it needed to  be a novel. 
What about POV in a novella?  One?  Two?  More?
In a romance, I like to do POV scenes from both the hero and heroine's eyes. I think it makes for a better story. In my other shorts, I usually stay with one POV.  Again, I think it would be driven by the story. In Redemption for the Devil, I have the hero and heroine's POV but I also have a scene with the villain's POV. As well, in my book to be released in April, called The Gambler, I have a scene in the heroine's sister's POV as the information needed to be out there but the hero and heroine couldn't know it at the time. 
What about time frame in a novella?
Jillian:  It must be a tighter time frame for sure. In novels, you can skip weeks between chapters  but that doesn't work so well in a novella.
How about setting? And how does it differ from a novel?
Jillian:  In a novel of 80,000 words or more, a writer can travel the world and insert numerous settings, but in a novella of around 40,000 words, it's hard to get more than a few places in there and do a good job of it. In a 8,000 word story, it's even harder. I think you have to do enough description to ground your reader to time and place. 
What is the most difficult part of writing a novella for you?
Jillian:  One thing I have a problem with is trying to be sure I stay away from certain what I call "crutch" words. I tend to overuse one to two words in each story- usually not the same one. That habit becomes more of an issue in the novella or short story as opposed to the novel. Since there are less words overall, the over-used ones become more noticeable. 
I love how you named your character in Surfer Bride, two road signs on the Highway 10 drive to Tallahassee FL.  Quincy Holt - amazing.  Good use of time on that dreary drive.

Any differences with how you plan, or invent characters for novellas as compared to novels?
Jillian:  Not really. I'm not much on planning. I usually start with the hero's name and a little bit of an idea of where it's going. I wrote a 70,000 word mystery with the only idea being that the protagonist is Jewish, owns a book store and hosts a murder mystery gathering. That's it.  
I also do some of my best plotting, such as it is, on trips, like that drive to Tallahassee. I've had whole short stories come to me on those drives as well as scenes in the novels I'm currently working on and then I itch to get home and get it down.
Have you ever worked Flash Fiction?
Jillian:  I have. I love writing super short. I've never had any published but they are fun to do. Getting a whole plot in 750-1000 words is a challenge but I love it- I think it flexes the brain muscle. 
What are you working on now?
Jillian:  I'm polishing book three of my series coming soon from Desert Breeze Publishing- It's called The Gambler's Daughter. I'm also working on a short story that I plan to submit to Still Moments Publishing, one of my other publishers- it's set on the beach.  I like to write a few short stories between novels to keep myself busy as I usually like to let a novel sit for a month or so before I start to polish it.  I try to write every day and recommend that as a good habit to develop. I don't always succeed in doing it, but I sure try.
Any other advice for writers wanting to work on shorter fiction?
Jillian:  Keep studying the writers you like and the way they do things. Reading is the best teacher. See what you like about certain stories and what you don't. Try to avoid the things that drive you crazy in others' writings. Look on-line to see what calls are out there for short stories and start sending some in. Most have themes and word counts. Practice using those themes as prompts and staying in the word count. That will teach you to write tight and get rid of unneeded words. I like this site:
They send an email each week with tons of places looking for stories. I find a lot of my places to submit there. 
Great resource Jillian.  Thanks for stopping by and sharing your view of writer short lengths.  And good luck with your current and next releases.  You can check out Jillian’s website for more information about her books, blog and upcoming releases.

Feel free to add your comments for Jillian or anything on writing short.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dipping Another Toe in the Social Media Pool

I am not afraid to admit that I am not one of those people who dives head first into the deep end of the cold clear pool.  

No, I am the one in the shallow end, on tip toe, wading in slowly.  Sometimes shrieking, or at the very least sucking in short, gasping breaths, until I finally submerge myself.  So this analogy has followed me as I wade into the writer’s pool of social media.

Now I am a Boomer, which means I am not as adept with technology as my children. For instance, my daughter set up this blog for me.  Off she went to college, so I was forced to set up my own Facebook page, much to her chagrin. 

But as I went over those lists of must dos for the emerging writer, I noticed having a website was at the top of the list.  The idea was that agents and editors would be surfing the web looking for me.  And they better be able to find me.  

So last week I delved into the make and publish your own webpage world.  Let me just say without all the wonderful information and supported offered through my various email loops and writer’s blogs I never would have attempted this.  
However, being that I am under-published - no book yet. I had no idea what I would put on my author/writer website. 
So I looked to my writerly friends again, and their websites. The imagination and variety on their webpages fueled my creativity.  I decided to let go of what I lacked and have fun with this project. 
So far I have spent about 6 hours building and tweaking my site.  It is a work in progress and if ,when I have a book published I may want a more polished look, including my book cover.  But for now I can cross “author website” off my social media to do list.
If you don’t have a website yet and are contemplating building one.  Here’s what I did.

1.  Start with a free site and play.  I used Weebly but there are others out there.

2.  Surf other writer's site and see what you like.  What could you adapt and adopt for your site?

3.  I wanted something simple, easy to build, and to navigate.  And I didn’t want to spend too many hours on the process.  I still need to be spending my time writing and learning the craft.
4.  As far as branding goes, I haven’t got that far, but I knew I wanted to project the “children’s writer aspect” on my site, as that is where I am having more success. So I tried to make the site playful, friendly, and fun.  And I chose one of the free backgrounds that I thought portrayed this.
5.  Then I let go of my perfectionism and just pushed the publish button.
So, as the saying goes, if I can do it, anyone can.  
With very little time, no money so far, I built a website and you can too.  You can view it here 

Feel free to comment on your website building tips, or dramas.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

I was nominated for this award by Empi Baryeh and it is so nice to be noticed and nominated by a successful published author as I work my way through the maze and wonderment that is a writer’s life and social networking. Be sure to check out her always interesting blog at and her new book recently launched on February 3rd - Most Eligible Bachelor

Now on to the rules to the nominees of this award:
1. Nominate 15 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award - done
2. Add an image of the Versatile Blogger Award - done
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog - done
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself - done
5. In the same post, include this set of rules - done
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs - of course

Seven Completely Random Pieces of Information about me
1. I love in the beach in winter, when is all but abandoned

2. My favorite holiday is April Fool’s day and serendipitously my son was born on April 1st.
3. I love popcorn and red licorice but almost never get them at the movie theatre.

4. I love going to the library to people watch
5. I don’t have texting on my phone
6. Small rodents freak me out
7. I have been to Paris, but only for 24 hours.

Nominees for Award (in no particular order)
1. Anne Allen’s Blog
2. Mayra Calvani,
3, Anastasia Suen,
4. Margot Finke,
5. Roxanne Werner,
6. Gloria Richard,
7. The Kaizen Plan,
8. Jillian Chantal,
9. Marie Andreas,
10. Neil Hanson,
11. Doree Anderson,
12. Suzanne Drazic,
13. Arabella Stokes,
14. Kristina Knight,
15. Julianne,

Thanks for this opportunity to connect with you all. This was fun. Now to inform each nominee of their nomination.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February Goes to the Dogs

February is here, one step closer to spring, and there is plenty to celebrate beyond the usual Ground Hog Day, Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. Nothing against Presidents or Ground Hogs, but there is a lot more to February than hearts and flowers. Here’s to some of the weird and wacky celebrations this month.

Go get yourself some pie because February is Great American Pie Month.
And give a slice to your mail carrier on February 4th - Thank a Mail Carrier Day.

Then on the 7th - Wave all your fingers at Your Neighbor Day (not kidding) No little hand raise, or thumbs up, you must give a big five finger wave to all your neighbors.

February 11th is a day to recognize that sh** happens. And when it does, don’t worry, or fret or cry over it, because it’s Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day.

I’ll leave it up to you whether you celebrate February 16th - Do a Grouch a Favor Day.

But February is a great month to be a dog. February 20th is Love Your Pet Day. The 22nd is Walking the Dog Day and the 23rd is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day.

Possibly the best day of the month is February 27th - a day that requires absolutely no thinking, studying or analysis of any kind - No Brainer Day.

Rounding out the bizarre celebrations for the month, February 28th is a day to doze at the beach, sleep on a park bench, catch twenty winks on the bus or subway, or catch a few ZZZZs on the job with no worries because it is -
Public Sleeping Day.

So have a great month. And feel free to comment on anyway you might be celebrating.